Having spent the first half of the year training for the Etape, I spent a whole lotta time on a bike and sidelined running to focus on that. The Etape and all its training really took a lot out of me. It was an insane challenge for me and I won’t lie, I was relieved when it was over. A week before the Etape, I found out I’d got in to the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco in October. I allowed myself a week off before I dived right in to marathon training. I had no idea how my body would react after having not run for a few months, so how have the last few weeks training been?
People told me different things about the effect cycling would have on my running. The consensus was it’d do nothing for my speed. I would, in all likelihood, be slower. That has most definitely turned out to be the case. I had convinced myself that while sure, I may be slower, surely my endurance would be through the roof. Sadly, not true. I’ve gone back to running and am most definitely experiencing struggles.
I’m frustrated because running is my ‘thing’, or one of them at least. And right now, I feel like I suck at it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a spectacular runner by any means. I’m a natural 12 minute miler. It took me an incredible amount of work to get to be able to run an 8 minute mile. I fully accepted I’d never be on the Olympic marathon squad, but I was proud of my improvements. Now it seems I’m almost right back to my early running days. I don’t think I’ve made it through a run yet without having to take a little walk break (only of a minute or so but still, I’m kicking myself every time).
The marathon is in October so I’ve got basically two months to train. I eased myself back into running while on holiday in Canada. I was just doing a short loop every day, just to get my body used to it again and since being back from my vacay, have locked down my training plan and thrown myself full steam into it. A couple of Saturdays ago, I met up with some of my Run Dem Crew brethren to do a 16 miler. The furthest I’d run since March was 5K. I’m willing to admit, this was a ridiculously optimistic goal. We started at Swains Lane (one of the steepest hills in London). I managed two reps of Swains and then we set off on the run. Barely a mile into it, I knew I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. While I love running with my Run Dem peeps, I also really love running alone and think I bit off more than I could chew by making my return to running on a run with so many people. After four and a half miles, which had consisted of a constant internal argument with myself in which the ‘I don’t like this’ side of my brain kept consistently winning, I decided to bow out and catch the tube home.
I know what works for me and I know when I run best. I got up at 5:30am the next day and was out the door by 6am. I ran. Alone. No headphones. Just the sound of my heartbeat and occasional traffic. I just wanted to see how far I could get. I ran from East London to West London and when all was said and done, I’d racked up (a slow) 11 miles. I have it in me, I just needed to do it alone.
But now, having ‘eased myself back in’ to running, I know that for me to progress in any meaningful way, I need to submit to the pain portion of training. I need to push myself harder, I need to do speed sessions, I need to get to a track and have the kind of session that leaves your legs wobbly and your lungs on the asphalt. But I’m scared.
Quite frankly, I think I’m a little traumatised from the Etape. It was such a physically and emotionally draining experience for me. I think we often don’t fully grasp exactly what we put our bodies through as Street Athletes. We think that because it’s our hobby as opposed to our job, that somehow it’s not as serious or doesn’t count. But it is, and it does, and it’s hard. And however strong you may like to think you are, sometimes it takes more than a couple of days to fully process what happened in your last event and move on to the next thing.
I look at where I am now in my physical and mental well being compared to three years ago when I was just dragging my ass off the couch and I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I like being hardcore and badass and pushing myself to be better and do more, but sometimes, I think I need to cut my self some slack from the continuous ass whoopings I give it.
On Saturday, I have 17 miles to run. While I wait for my physical self to get with the program, it looks like the majority of this training will be run with heart.
Follow me on Instagram (@BangsandaBun) for training pics